Petition seeking protection of ecology of Western Ghats is maintainable (2)

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Road shall be constructed on elevated pillars on Mutha river bed, Pune Municipality to safeguard river bed from any encroachments.

Dated July 11, 2013 | Sarand Yadwadkar & ors vs Pune Municipal Corporation & ors (Appl. no. 2 of 2013)

The applicant challenged the road from Vitthalwadi to NH-4 bypass which is under construction and more than 40% of the work is completed. It was submitted by the appelant that the Draft Development Plan is not approved by State Government and the project violated several norms and guidelines which includes construction inside blue line (the contour line deciding the boundary of restricted zone on both banks of the river) of Mutha river bed, no permission from Irrigation Department and Archaelogical Department.

It was alleged that the actual width of the road constructed is 30 m instead of 24 m as shown in Draft Development Plan, which also affects the River Protection Belt (RPB) which is kept to accomodate the discharge from the dam and protect the city from floods. It was also submitted that the construction of the road within the Mutha river bed have elevated the level of the road by 20-30 ft by way of illegal dumping of debris and earth, result of which the width of river Mutha has reduced by about 55% posing a risk of flooding in surrounding areas.

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Uttarakhand Disaster: MoEF and State to provide list of pending projects with Ecological and Environmental Impact

NGT Uttarakhand Disaster Show Cause 2 July 2013

Judgement Modified in a Review of Forested Land Conversion Case from Goa

NGT Modifies its Judgement in a Review of Forested Land Conversion Case from Goa

National Green Tribunal in a review application (5/2013) partly modified the original judgement of 21 February 2013 (application 29/2012) in view of fresh fact/ document placed before the Tribunal.

The case relates to a forested private land in (Survey No. 25/2 at village Sangod in Sanguem Taluka)  Goa. The owner, Mr Satyawan B. Prabhudessai, had cleared 18000 sq m of land of tree growth.  Mr Prabhudessai applied for only 2500 sq m area ‘to be converted for non-agricultural purpose, namely, establishment of Petrol filling Station.’ on 11 July 2006 to the Collector of South Goa. The permission was granted on 2 April 2008 but for “construction of residential house property”. The conversion of land was not specifically permitted for any commercial purpose as such though the permission was sought for installation of petrol filling station yet it was erroneously considered as permission for conversion of said land to residential use. 

The Tribunal noted that Mr Prabhudessai instead of clearing 2500 sq m land, bulldozed the earth from 18000 sq m area. Also, instead of 2500 sq. m he utilized 4000 sq m area for installation of the Petrol Pump. 

NGT in the original application in its judgement on 21 February 2013 had directed Mr Prabhudessai to maintain status quo and not operate the petrol filling station until appropriate permission is granted by the competent authority, which may impose conditions such as plantation of the bulldozed area at the cost of Mr Prabhudessai, under supervision of the Forest Department, or alike, or may refuse the permission as may be deemed proper. 

Mr Prabhudessai, now placed on record the letter of Additional Collector which rectified  the mistake in the order dated 2 April 2008 by issuing corrigendum on 08.04.2008. The Tribunal, thus, excused Mr Prabhudessai from the order ‘not operate the Petrol filling station until appropriate permission is granted by the competent authority’.  Nevertheless, the clearing of excess area than permitted i.e. to the extent of 15,500 sq m is to be replanted. The Tribunal directed that ‘the petrol filling station shall not be  allowed  to  operate  till  Shri  Satyawan  B. Prabhudessai deposits  an amount of Rs. 7,25,000 as  penal  cost  for  plantation,  with  the  State Government,  Goa.’ The State administration was directed to take action against Mr Prabhudessai for breach of permission conditions e.g. clearing more area than permitted. 

NGT by this judgement also disposed off another review application no. 6/2013 requesting recall of the original judgement. 

Pushp Jain

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

New Delhi - 110 048

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Nisarga Reviews 52013RA 31 May 2013 final order

Stay Order on Leather Park Complex in Agra District of Uttar Pradesh in India

 National Green Tribunal has ordered an interim stay in an Application against a Leather Park Complex coming up at village Baroda Sadar, Mahaur and Pali Sadar, Tehsil Kiraoli, District Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Application details are as follows.

Application is against violation of the EIA Notification, 2006 and specifically the conditions stipulated in the Environment Clearance issued by the Uttar Pradesh State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority to the UP State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd for construction of the said Leather Park Complex.

The project is being constructed in 111.049 ha land in the Taj Trapezium Zone. The TTZ comprises of forty protected monuments which includes Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. An area of 10,400 sq km around Taj Mahal was declared as a sensitive zone by the Central Government on 3 May1983 and it was directed that no industries with pollution potential will be allowed in the said area to protect the monuments from the environmental damage caused by the industrial pollution.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had informed the project proponent that the project shall be examined under the provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006 and the recommendations of the competent authority should be placed before the Supreme Court in the backdrop of the TTZ Notifications to obtain permission. But no such permission was obtained.

Neither ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the UP Pollution Control Board was taken nor permission obtained from the Forest Department for felling of trees at the project site.

The project is coming up within ten km of the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. The project proponent did not obtain clearance from the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) which is a disregard of the order passed by the Supreme Court in Goa Foundation versus Union of India wherein it was observed that to conserve forest, environment and wildlife, all activities falling within 10 km of the boundaries of the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries would be referred to the Standing Committee.

Furthermore, decision to grant Environment Clearance is illegal since it was wrongly appraised under Item 8 (b) to bypass the mandatory requirement of ‘Scoping’ process whereas as per the schedule to the EIA Notification, 2006 the construction of leather parks falls under Item 7 (c). It reads “Industrial estates/ parks/ complexes/ areas, export processing Zones (EPZs), Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Biotech Parks, Leather Complexes.” The project, which are listed in Item 7(c) have to undergo the process of ‘Scoping’. This process involves determination of detailed and comprehensive Terms of Reference (ToR) to address all relevant environmental concerns for the preparation of an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Report in respect of the project or activity for which prior environmental clearance is sought.

Finally, it is a stated fact of the law that “Any project or activity specified in Category ‘B’ will be treated as Category A, if located in whole or in part within 10 km from the boundary of Protected Areas notified under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972” and this project lies within ten km of the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. Thus, the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority has no authority to grant environment clearance to the project treating it as a category B project while it should have been processed through the relevant Environment Appraisal Committee of MoEF for being a Category A project.

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